CARY, N.C. (AP) — After nearly withdrawing following his sister’s death Saturday night, Kenny Perry won the SAS Championship on Sunday for his first Champions Tour title.
Kay Perry died Saturday night after a long fight with breast cancer. She died two years to the day after the death of their mother, Mildred Perry, also to cancer.
“When I heard the news last night, it was a long night,” Perry said. “I didn’t sleep a lot, thought about just getting on a plane and heading home. “But Dad was great. He called me, he said, ‘Son, you just need to go out there and represent Kay today.'”
He did, making a 30-foot eagle putt on the par-5 17th en route to a 2-under 70 and a one-stroke victory over Jeff Sluman and John Huston.
“I was very calm all day. I had no nerves,” Perry said. “Normally, I’m a little jumpy, a little jittery, tense. Today, I was just – I felt like I was on a low. I was really down. I was kind of depressed, and my swing was in rhythm. It wasn’t fast, and I had great control of the golf ball.”
The 51-year-old Perry, a 14-time winner on the PGA Tour winner, had an 11-under 205 total – the highest winning score in tournament history – on the Prestonwood Country Club course.
Sluman also finished with a 70, and Huston shot a 71.
Perry rallied after making a double-bogey 7 on the 12th hole after hitting his approach shot into the water. He also had a double bogey in the first round.
“Normally, I get pretty frustrated and pretty upset over that type of deal, and they get to me inside,” said Perry, the fifth first-time winner this year. “I was able to just plod along, just play along.”
“I really wasn’t thinking a lot about winning. I just wanted to make her proud and somehow, you know, the eagle fell in the bottom of the cup on 17, and I felt like I know they are watching. I felt like I had some help up there. Excited to win, but I’d rather have my sister back.”
Sluman said the weather made play difficult for the second straight day.
“We’re not used to that cold and blustery kind of north, northwest wind, and it makes the golf course set up extremely difficult,” Sluman said. “It was at least 2 to 2 1/2 shots tougher (than Friday). (And) with no humidity, it really dries the greens out, and the greens were, from Friday until today, 3 feet faster.”
Russ Cochran, the 2010 winner, had a 71 to finish fourth at 8 under, a stroke ahead of Fred Couples (70).
Tom Lehman (72) tied for 12th at 4 under. He maintained his lead in Charles Schwab Cup race and the $1 million payday. Mark Calcavecchia tied for the low round of the day with a 68 to tied for 10th at 5 under. He picked up 53 points and remained in second place in the Schwab Cup race, 398 points behind.